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Get to know Tom Page ’71, ’76: A generous alumnus with a challenge for others

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September 15, 2017

Thomas E. PageThomas E. Page describes himself as a regular guy — “Call me Tom,” he says — but he’s much more than that.

The former Detroit and Los Angeles police officer — now retired — has taken on the roles of ad hoc ambassador for the city of Detroit and promoter and devotee of bicycling in the city. These two activities keep him very busy.

He is also a major booster of University of Detroit Mercy. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 1971 and a master’s degree in Urban Studies in ’76 from University of Detroit and he credits his education for his success.

“One of the things I learned here is that education is much more than knowledge of facts,” Page said. “A person needs to be able to adapt to changes in technology, in society and to think for themselves. Things change so rapidly in society today that we have to look at things in a circular way, not a linear way, because one issue is affected by so many other things — it’s not just ‘this happened then that happened.’ ”

That kind of global thinking, he said, made him a good police officer. His career in law enforcement began with the Detroit Police Department before he headed out to Los Angeles where he worked for about 20 years with the LAPD. It was there he began work on a new initiative, helping to create a standardized, effective approach to combat drug-impaired driving.

“It became very important for police to know what they were dealing with in terms of drug use,” Page said. He helped create the first formal Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) curriculum for police officers and has taught drug influence recognition and criminal justice topics to police and prosecutors across the country and around the world.

In his current role as a law enforcement consultant and DRE Emeritus, Page regularly provides expert testimony on the impairing effects of alcohol and legal and illegal drugs on driving in courts around the United States. Page has written extensively about techniques officers can use to determine what types of drugs a person may be under the influence of.

After retiring from the LAPD as the Officer-in-Charge of the department’s Drug Recognition Expert program, Page realized it was time to put his Urban Studies degree to use and moved back to Detroit’s Midtown area.

“I saw all the things that were happening in Detroit and started to get more involved, and I wanted to vote here,” he said. “I wanted a say in what was going on.”

As he reacquainted himself with his hometown, he began hosting bicycling events around the city — he’d long been a bicycling enthusiast — and getting involved with neighborhood organizations, he found himself drawn back to Detroit Mercy’s McNichols Campus. He served on the Board of Advisors for the College of Liberal Arts & Education and attends many University-sponsored events. He even makes sure some of his bike tours make their way to campus, just to show it off to people who don’t know its beauty.

He recently showed just how he feels about the University and its students by giving two significant gifts designed with the same goal in mind.

“I’ve realized what’s important to me,” he said. “I’m secure; I don’t need more stuff. But what I could do is to create a legacy that gets carried on at this University, which I care deeply about.”

One gift is designed to have an immediate impact on the current student experience. Each year for five years, Page has pledged to support a project designed to build an energized student body and campus. Last year, his gift paid for two bicycle repair stations on the McNichols campus; this year, the gift will be used to establish a bicycle loan program. Four bicycles, specially designed by Detroit Bikes in Detroit Mercy colors, will be available on campus for students to borrow. The details of this program are still a work in progress, but the bicycles will be ready to use this fall.

This year’s gift also supports a dean-designated initiative in the College of Liberal Arts & Education as well as the women’s soccer team.

In addition to Page’s generous five-year annual gift commitment, he has also included the University in his estate planning, leaving a significant and transformational gift to enhance student life on the McNichols Campus.

“This gift is in support of the morality, the ethics, the very DNA of Detroit Mercy,” Page said. “This place serves a very wonderful purpose for our community and our society, and we need to support that.”

“I want the students on campus to feel the same way about this University that I do,” Page said. “I want them to know there are alumni who care about them and care about this city.”

“Tom Page’s significant gifts to University of Detroit Mercy are reflections of the love he has for his alma mater and the high value he has placed on the education he received,” said Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D. “His generous ways of supporting current and future students will undoubtedly inspire others to express appreciation for their successful and boundless careers.”

Page acknowledges there is yet another motive for the gifts: To provide inspiration.

“I still have many friends — many of them Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity brothers — I met at the University, and we’re at the stage in our lives where it’s time for some of them to give back to the school because of what it has meant to them,” Page said. “I want them to say, ‘If Tom Page can do this, I can do something.’ ”

“I want my gifts to go to something that’s actually useful,” he said. “I want to help create a vibrant campus experience for the students.”

To ‘do something’ like Page, please visit community.udmercy.edu/donate or call University Advancement at 313-993-1250.

Page will lead a bike ride on Sept. 30 as part of Detroit Mercy’s Homecoming 2017. For more information on that, visit community.udmercy.edu/homecoming.

— By Ronald Bernas. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.

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